joint post by Jerry Coyne and Heather Hastie
New Zealand is dealing with the tail-end of Cyclone Debbie at the moment. (It made a huge mess of north-west Australia recently.) There’s very heavy rain all across the North Island and the north of the South Island. Several places are receiving a month’s worth of rain in just a couple of days.
Normally, this wouldn’t have much effect on me. I’m lucky enough to live somewhere that is out of the way of any potential flooding. However, this week I’m playing host to Jerry Coyne of Why Evolution is True fame. Yesterday we were going to visit the world famous Waitomo Caves but that went by the wayside because of the downpour. (We’ll go later in the week.)
So we’re at my place, each tapping away separately on our laptops. Jerry therefore made the suggestion that we do a joint post on the most recent appalling situation facing Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Yes, once again a bunch of losers are doing their best to silence this amazing woman.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Hero of Heresy’ Tour of Australia and New Zealand
Like many international acts and speakers, Hirsi Ali planned to visit Australia then “add-on” New Zealand. Thus, New Zealand was going to host Ayaan Hirsi Ali next week, and for the first time. As you can imagine, New Zealand atheists were very much looking forward to this event.
However, neither trip is going to happen. A small number of activists in Australia are accusing Hirsi Ali of Islamophobia and threatening her security via protests and more. Thus, Hirsi Ali has been forced to cancel her trip at the last minute, citing security concerns. Those insuring the visit were also threatened.
It was Hirsi Ali herself who cancelled the tour, which she told the Guardian was due to “a succession of organisational lapses” on the part of Think Inc. There’s no mention of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s tour or its cancellation on Think Inc.’s website. However, the Guardian reports:
In a statement Think Inc … said the cancellation was due to a “number of reasons including security concerns”.
A spokeswoman told Guardian Australia she was “incredibly disappointed” the tour would not be going ahead. “We’re a little bit crushed.”
The main security concern seems to relate to the actions of Syed Murtaza Hussain of the Council for the Prevention of Islamophobia Inc. He got in touch with all the companies who insured the venues Hirsi Ali was due speak at, trying to get their insurance cancelled. Think Inc told the Guardian they were working with the Australian Federal Police in relation to that matter.
Before we get to the latest bout of Hirsi Ali censorship, do read Jeffrey Tayler’s new Quillette piece on her latest work, a 113-page pamphlet published by the Hoover Institute Press called The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam and How to Counter It (free .pdf at the link). Or, better yet, read both Hirsi Ali’s piece and then Tayler’s take on it.
We were told by a reliable source that Retweets of Tayler’s article were blocked at least twice by Twitter, forcing Quillettte to change the url each time.
Jeffrey Tayler: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Explains How To Combat Political Islam
Though neither of us has yet read the long piece, Tayler summarizes it in his Quillette article, “Ayaan Hirsi Ali explains how to combat political Islam.”
Hirsi Ali’s suggestions for quashing Islamism (not Islam!) in the West won’t be welcomed by Regressive Leftists, but most seem sensible. They include an understanding of what dawa and jihad really mean; more stringent vetting of Muslim immigrants for extremist backgrounds and sentiments; recognition that organizations like CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) and The Muslim Brotherhood, regardless of their claims, act to promote Islamism; and a change in U.S. foreign policy to pressure or “unfriend” those nations supporting Islamism in the U.S. and other countries.
Here’s one quote from Tayler’s piece about those “moderate” Muslims and Islamic organizations so beloved by those who criticize “Islamophobia”:
Although he had openly declared his support for Hamas and Hezbollah, Abdurahman Alamoudi, in the 1990s, found himself appointed by the U.S. government to choose Muslim chaplains for the military and standing side-by-side with President Bush at a post-9/11 press conference. However, in 2003 the authorities arrested him for plotting to assassinate then Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, and later discovered him to be “one of Al-Qaeda’s top fundraisers.”
The executive director of CAIR, Nihad Awad, decried the U.S. government’s “anti-Muslim witch hunt” for raiding the offices of Ghassan Elashi, co-founder of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. But “Elashi was later indicted and convicted of channeling funds to Hamas.” (This unsettling contretemps didn’t stop the FBI from later thanking CAIR for “keep[ing] the nation safe.”) The FBI refuses to “engage in the war of ideas” with Islamists, and therefore blew it severely when it interviewed the infamous Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki four times before he absconded to Yemen to preach jihad. (A drone strike killed him in 2011.)
Later that year, a coalition of Islamist groups urged national security adviser John Brennan to “purge all federal government training materials of biased materials critical of Islamic theology.” Brennan duly complied, cutting 876 pages and 392 presentations deemed “offensive” to Islamist sensibilities but that doubtless would have enlightened analysts as to the Islamist danger. One wonders if any of the terrorist attacks that followed could have been prevented had Brennan not been so attendant to Islamist concerns.
Here’s Quillette editor Claire Lehmann’s video about the cancellation of Hirsi Ali’s Australia tour. It includes statements by those opposing her views, including accusations that she’s a white supremacist! Have they noticed that she’s not only black, but has never advocated such supremacy? That’s what you get when you criticize Islam—the worst epithets the Regressive Left can think of. I’m surprised they didn’t call Hirsi Ali a Nazi!
You may have come across Aussie Claire Lehmann of Rebel Media recently on Jerry’s site. He put up a post: ‘Claire Lehmann on feminism’s new love for Islamic “modesty culture”‘. It’s a great video which I highly recommend. It expresses many of the same sentiments I did in my post: ‘Islam and Women’s Clothing‘. Both Jerry and I love Claire’s quote in the video, “Wearing a hijab is not an achievement”.
This is Lehmann’s a statement on the Rebel Media site about the cancelling of the Hirsi Ali tour in Australia.
Our View of Lehmann’s Video: White Supremacy?!
It’s all pretty disgusting really. We were especially taken with the short video that Lehmann includes by some of the women protesting Hirsi Ali’s visit:
First Woman: Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Second Woman: You do not speak for us.
Third Woman: How can you claim to stand for our liberation,
First Woman: when you simply repeat the language of our oppressors?
Fourth Woman: This is not the language of solidarity, or understanding, or freedom.
Third Woman: This is the language of patriarchy and misogyny.
First Woman: This is the language of white supremacy.
Jerry and I were both blown away by this. Ayaan Hirsi Ali of all people facing an accusation of white supremacy! To quote Lehmann:
If someone who is of Somalian origin can be accused of supporting white supremacy, then what chance does anyone else have of not being accused? A Somalian woman who has been subject[ed] to beatings, female genital mutilation, who has escaped an arranged marriage and who has had one close friend assassinated [Theo Van Gogh with whom she made the short film Submission], and who has had a fatwa against her for half of her life – well of course she had a phobia of Islam! Who wouldn’t?
The Western Left are now teaming up with Islamists and are using accusations of bigotry to silence critics. When councils for the prevention of Islamophobia physically threaten venues!? in a country like Australia we should all be treating this as a wake up call.
And perhaps we in New Zealand should be too. Because if this professional victim culture is now in Australia, it could be here soon too. We really don’t need it. We saw some recently in relation to accusations of white supremacy at Auckland University, and we don’t want any more. Freedom of Speech must reign supreme!
Our View of Lehmann’s Video: Patriarchy and Misogyny?!
There is another galling aspect of this short clip. Three of the four women featured are accusing Hirsi Ali of “the language of patriarchy and misogyny” while themselves entombed in clothing forced on them by a patriarchal and misogynist religion. They can say it’s their choice to wear the hijab as much as they like, and in Australia that’s true. The fact remains that multiple Muslim-majority countries exist where women don’t have that choice. In fact in several it is even a crime not to dress as the male clerics determine.
Further there’s plenty of evidence that while wearing a hijab may be a woman’s choice in the West, within many communities it’s not quite that simple. Women are often still forced to comply with religious rules that stand in opposition to the legal freedoms they nominally enjoy.
More Claims From Protestors
The same group of women set-up a Change.org petition protesting Hirsi Ali’s visit. The sponsor was Sherene Hassan who is a board director of the Islamic Museum of Australia. (Who knew there was such a place!?) It got 437 signatures, which is singularly unimpressive.
Syed Murtaza Hussain, the opponent mentioned above who contacted multiple insurance companies, said that if Hirsi Ali spoke in Melbourne there would he 5,000 protestors in attendance. But, if group of women could only manage 437 signatures from the on-line community, where were they going to find all these people? At the time the tour was cancelled, they actually hadn’t even managed to crack the 400 mark! It sounds like their bark is much bigger than their bite, and that’s exactly the problem.
The real reason protests from Islamic groups succeed is because so many of them are violent. People remember all the murder and mayhem in the wake of Islamist actions worldwide and they naturally get scared. For example, in 2015 there were 29,376 deaths as the result of terrorism. 74% of those deaths were attributable to just four organizations – all Islamist. (Boko Haram, the Taliban, DAESH and al-Qaeda.)
Lying for Muhammad
As is so often the case, in asking for the banning of a speaker, the group asking for the ban insists that they are all for freedom of speech. This group is no different. In their statement on the petition, they say:
We welcome and encourage vigorous discussion and debate regarding Islam and the status of women. However to conflate hate speech with free speech undermines both the intelligence of our community and the efforts we have made to maintain respect and dignity in an environment of such hostility. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s conversation does not contribute to any insights nor further the debate in any way. This is simple sensationalism designed to fuel division and hate. Australia deserves better than this.
This kind of distortion and sensationalism is absolute rubbish. The protestors do not “welcome and encourage vigorous discussion and debate regarding Islam and the status of women” at all! If they did, they would welcome Hirsi Ali. Her desire is for Islam to experience a reformation that would, among other things, improve the status of women. And she has a significant amount to contribute on the topic. Since she was last in Australia she has written a book, Heretic, on the subject. Even more recently, she wrote the paper in the link above.
Hirsi Ali’s experience with how she’s been treated by Islam and its adherents would justify her expressing virulent dislike of that faith. Instead, though, she approaches the topic in a thoughtful and intelligent way. The truth is that too many Muslims don’t want their religion to be put under the microscope. They want people to continue to make comments like, “Islam is a religion of peace,” and “ISIS has nothing to do with Islam.”
Like most Christians, most Muslims haven’t read the Qur’an and often don’t know the reality of their holy book. Most Western atheists know the saying that the best way to create an atheist is to get a Christian to read the Bible. The same is true of getting a Muslim to read the Qur’an. A majority only know the good bits, the same way so many Christians only know the good bits of the Bible.
In the end, a woman who should be a hero to progressives and liberals alike is being not only being demonized, but censored for expressing the very values that liberals supposedly hold. It should go without saying that censorship itself is illiberal. So why is this happening? As both of us have emphasized in earlier posts, it represents the clash between two competing issues. Muslims are perceived as people of color, and thus criticism of them is frequently seen as racism. And, as so often happens, when there’s a clash between feminism and another issue, feminism is required to take a back seat. The abysmal treatment of Hirsi Ali, now and in the past, is perhaps one of the clearest examples of this clash.
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